Source - SMW
UK stocks closed in positive territory on Tuesday following a recovery in oil prices and after positive Chinese factory data stoked hopes the world's second-biggest economy was recovering from the Covid-19 crisis, though investors remained on edge as the disease continued to spread elsewhere.

At 16.35, the benchmark FTSE 100 index was up 100.1 points, a gain of 1.8%, at 5,663.82.

China's manufacturing purchasing managers index jumped to 52.0 in March, up from 35.7 in February.


Royal Dutch Shell rose 5.8% to £14.02, even as it warned of impairment charges in the range of $400m-to-$800m in the first quarter following a slump in oil prices, caused by the Covid-19 pandemic and a price war between Russia and Saudi Arabia.

Engineering company Smiths improved 7.9% to £12.04, having delayed a demerger of its medical division indefinitely until markets stabilized.

Smiths also ruled out paying an interim dividend.

Tobacco giant Imperial Brands puffed 10.7% higher to £14.75 after it secured a new €3.5bn credit facility and said it had experienced no material impact on its performance from Covid-19 to date.

Advertising company WPP climbed 5.8% to 545.8p, even as it suspended its final dividend and a share buyback, citing a recent deterioration in demand that had blighted an otherwise good start to 2020.

Pizza delivery chain Domino's Pizza rose 4.2% to 280p on the back of news that it had hired former Costa Coffee head Dominic Paul as its new chief executive.

Flow control and instrumentation group Rotork shed 3.2% to trade at 215.4p as it cancelled its final dividend, having shuttered factories in Italy, India and Malaysia due to government lockdown measures.


Soft drinks group Nichols firmed 4.2% to £12.45 despite news it now expects to see a 'significant impact' on this year's financial performance due to coronavirus. Famed for its iconic Vimto drink, Nichols withdrew guidance for 2020 and cancelled the final dividend in a bid to preserve cash.

However, investors welcomed Nichols' confident outlook, the company insisting it will 'emerge from this unprecedented period well-placed to continue to deliver the group's long-term growth plans'.

Specialist brick manufacturer Michelmersh Brick gained 8.1% to 93p after it reported a 61% rise in annual profit, indicating its business was traveling well before the Covid-19 crisis hit.

Michelmersh Brick last week deferred all dividend payments, having suspended deliveries at all of its plants due to the pandemic.

Specialist product manufacturer Morgan Advanced Materials softened 2.4% to 184.5p after it too joined the dividend cancellation club.

Banknote printer De La Rue rallied 6.3% to 57.1p, having maintained its guidance and confirming continued progress with its turnaround plan. 

Cybersecurity company Falanx jumped 43.5% to 0.82p, on announcing that it had received about £1m of new orders in its cybersecurity division between December and mid-February.

Falanx said it now expected to deliver 13% growth in revenue to about £5.9m for the year through March 2019.

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